Were Early Computers Really the Size of a School Bus?: And Other Questions About Inventions
By: Deborah Kops
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: January 2011
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: May 2011
Nicolas-Joseph Cufnor’s “car” traveled so slowly at three miles per hour that most people could outrun it. He had his first vehicle in 1769, but “A year later, he built a larger one.” Wait, you might say, didn’t Henry Ford invent the automobile? If you believe that one, perhaps you might want to buy the Brooklyn Bridge or take a closer look at some inventors and their fabulous inventions. Henry Ford was a very innovative entrepreneur and did introduce the Model T in 1908, but no, he did not invent the automobile. Cufnor’s car was actually a carriage that “rode on three wheels.” Another interesting first for Cufnor was that his car was the first to get in an accident when it smashed into a wall. Nothing was mentioned about the state of the car, but the wall was destroyed.
In this book you’ll be taking a look at seventeen fascinating questions about inventions. The answers to these questions are not always a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but can have a hmmm quality to them. Take for example the question, “Was frozen food really invented by a fur trader?” The answer was “yes, more or less.” You’ll learn that yes indeed Clarence Birdseye was a fur trader for many years, but you’ll also learn how he went about inventing frozen foods. It all started when he went fishing one day and it “was so cold outside that the fish froze as soon as they came out of the water.” You’ll learn about how he went about inventing his “quick-freezing method” so we can now enjoy food that taste almost as good as “freshly prepared food.”
Young students who have inquiring minds are going to enjoy reading about all kinds of inventions from the invention of the first printed book to x-rays. The book is peppered with fascinating photographs and illustrations of the inventors and their marvelous inventions. One of the most interesting was about Alfred Nobel and speculation as to why he, as the inventor of dynamite, donated his fortune to “peace” prizes. The material is not overly detailed, but even the most reluctant reader will become immersed in these pages. Each of these seventeen questions and their answers could easily become a stepping stone to a school report. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.
Quill says: In this book you’ll swirl through time exploring the facts and fallacies of inventions.